Posts Tagged Wayne Swan
Despite not being the “shadow CIA” that Julian Assange tried to pretend it was (mostly so that hacking them could seem like a big deal), strategic consulting company does provide some useful analysis.
In this week’s dispatch, Stratfor director George Friedman has analysed the strategy of Australia, trying to answer the question of why a country that seems both secure and wealthy would take part in so many wars that do not directly affect its security.
As Friedman details, the answer is that Australia must contribute to our strategic alliance with the Us in order to guarantee US support in our own region. As I have pointed out, the maritime routes in the South Pacific are not quite as secure as they seem, and will probably be the subject of some conflict over the coming decades.
Australia’s Strategy | Stratfor.
This leads to Australia’s strategic problem. In order to sustain its economy it must trade, and given its location, its trade must go by sea. Australia is not in a position, by itself, to guarantee the security of its sea-lanes, due to its population size and geographic location. Australia therefore encounters two obstacles. First, it must remain competitive in world markets for its exports. Second, it must guarantee that its goods will reach those markets. If its sea-lanes are cut or disrupted, the foundations of Australia’s economy are at risk. …
Australia is in a high-risk situation, even though superficially it appears secure. Its options are to align with the United States and accept the military burdens that entails, or to commit to Asia in general and China in particular. Until that time when an Asian power can guarantee the sea-lanes against the United States — a time that is far in the future — taking the latter route would involve pyramiding risks. Add to this that the relationship would depend on the uncertain future of Asian economies — and all economic futures are now uncertain — and Australia has chosen a lower-risk approach.
This approach has three components. The first is deepening economic relations with the United States to balance its economic dependencies in Asia. The second is participating in American wars in order to extract guarantees from the United States on sea-lanes. The final component is creating regional forces able to handle events in Australia’s near abroad, from the Solomon Islands through the Indonesian archipelago. But even here, Australian forces would depend on U.S. cooperation to manage threats.
Once again, Australia is secure because we have played our strategic hand very well over the past century, but this may not necessarily be the case in future. Reducing our military — and especially naval — capabilities by cutting defence spending, as the Government is, is a huge mistake.
There is no shortage of Government projects that could be cut back instead of defence . We can start with some of these ridiculous middle class welfare/pork-barrelling measures that my favourite treasurer has just introduced, or that useless bid for a seat on the UN Security Council that has been our top foreign policy endeavour since 2009.
What is the point of having a vote in the Security Council when we are a military non-event?
I keep seeing things like this:
I was shocked on budget night when nearly $3 billion was stripped from foreign aid spending (”Foreign aid vow broken”, May 9). Not only has a bipartisan promise been broken, but the government has chosen to save fewer lives and to help fewer children receive basic education in the name of a wafer-thin budget surplus.
That itty-bitty surplus could have waited another year. But instead, the child who has no access to clean water will wait. The community that is afflicted by hunger, or the mother who can’t immunise her children will wait.
The government may have achieved its surplus, but there will be deficit nevertheless: the 250,000 people whose lives will be lost because of it.
Rachel Achterstraat Manly
Which is why I was happy to see this, albeit in a publication with far less views:
The aid program has only been “cut” to the extent that the government has not delivered on promises to ramp up aid spending so that it reaches 0.5% of GNI by 2015-16. The government has maintained its commitment to increase aid to 0.5% of GNI but pushed back the target date to 2016-2017. Sticking to the 2015-16 target would have meant aid spending in 2012-13 of around 0.38%of GNI.
I looked up the word “cut”, here is the definition that I think would apply most here:
Remove (something) from something larger by using a sharp implement
- - I cut his photograph out of the paper
- - some prisoners had their right hands cut off
People seem to be following EU thinking, which is not really congruent with — you know — reality. Increasing spending less than you would otherwise have done does not equal “cutting” spending, it’s still an increase.
Paul Howes on the HSU debacle:
IT hasn’t been a great week to be a union official. Once again the ongoing stories of alleged corruption and unethical behaviour at the Health Services Union (HSU) have dominated the headlines.
The actions of a few in a union of 77,000 members have tarnished the reputation of the entire union movement which represents two million Australians.
… Unfortunately, with a small minority in our movement giving our enemies free kicks things have become that much harder for the rest of our members. But at the end of the day what we seek to achieve for working people is the right thing.
Providing strength and unity for workers is still necessary in our society. That’s why taking action against the enemy within was the right thing to do for the labour movement — and will be the right thing to do in the times to come.
What strikes me about the two million workers he speaks of: that is less than 10% of Australians. By most accounts, it’s around 18% of working Australians. So even assuming that the Unions all do their best to represent their membership (which they don’t – say what you want about HSU, but I can’t believe that there is no uncovered corruption going on elsewhere in the movement), that means that the Unions are an interest group representing less than one in every five workers and fighting for what those workers want.
Yet this group has 50% of the internal votes in Australia’s only real social democratic party and numerous other ties, which means that leaders like Kevin Rudd who are not especially pro-Union can never be allowed to last long. It also seems to mean that the Labor party can never get passed its anachronistic dogma about what’s “good for workers”, in spite of very clear evidence to the contrary. It also makes Wayne Swan’s bizarre conspiracies about “vested interests” look even worse.
The sad thing is that unionised labour is actually a great idea in theory and once worked very well. There is a lot to be said for people who work uniting democratically in order to achieve better conditions for themselves. Unfortunately, the Union movement in Australia has long ago ceased to be anything resembling this.
Also, will someone please point me to the Union leader in Australia who spoke out against worker conditions in China when the whole world recently focussed its eyes on Apple and conditions in its manufacturing plants at Foxconn? I would really love to see the person who pointed out that Foxconn really has better working conditions than most Chinese factories and we are letting an even bigger evil go completely unscrutinised. Thing is, that wasn’t a Union leader, it was an anti-Union leader. The Unions were too busy trying to distance themselves from HSU to notice.
As everyone living in the 21st Century should know by now, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has just resigned. This comes after months of speculation on his coming back to power, fuelled by and a massive media beat-up. The whole thing started when poll results started to show that more people favoured Rudd as Prime Minister than Julia Gillard. This is a meaningless exercise, asking someone that question when Gillard is the leader and Rudd is not is entirely different from asking when Rudd is the leader and is under the scrutiny that the position brings.
Nevertheless, the press seized the idea and constantly spoke about it, to the point where it seemed like Q and A panelists could discuss nothing else. Then, ABC’s Four Corners began 2012 with an episode on Rudd’s ousting by Gillard, revealing that *shock horror* Gillard had not just woken up that morning and challenged Rudd, but had planned the takeover. I suspect that they are currently investigating whether or not the Pope is indeed Catholic.
This piece of non-news was beaten-up to the point where all the media could talk about was a Rudd challenge. Columnists around Australia, from Fairfax to News Ltd to the ABC, all threw in their two cents on the matter. Some were more subtle than others; Andrew Bolt, not known for his subtlety, even seemed to be actively campaigning for Rudd.
This was all satirised brilliantly by Imre Saluszinsky this morning in The Australian.
IT appears a showdown between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd is inevitable.
Three things must now occur: Rudd must openly declare if he is challenging; Labor MPs must decide who they want to lead them; and, above all, another column on the Labor leadership must be written immediately. The thousands of previous opinion columns written on this issue have only skimmed the surface.
They have resolved nothing.
Leadership tensions have escalated to a point where no column, however flippant, can afford to ignore them.
A completely new column is needed.
It is understood this column could now occur “as early as next week”.
So, in what has been accurately dubbed a ‘soap opera’, Rudd has now stepped down from the Foreign Minister role. What does this mean? One of three things:
1. Rudd is going for Gillard
This is the media’s favourite outcome as everyone loves a good soap opera and because it vindicates all of their columns. It does seem like he has been deliberately encouraging this idea, which may be because he knew that doing so would make it more likely to eventuate.
I am skeptical about this. From what I gather, his internal support in Labor is not very strong and he would have little chance of actually winning. This seems especially true as some very high-profile MPs have been attacking him tonight. Wayne Swan, for instance:
Prime Minister Gillard and I and the overwhelming majority of our colleagues have been applyingour Labor values to the policy challenges in front of us and we’re succeeding despite tremendous political obstacles.
For the sake of the labour movement, the Government and the Australians which it represents, we have refrained from criticism to date. However for too long, Kevin Rudd has been putting his own self-interest ahead of the interests of the broader labour movement and the country as a whole, and that needs to stop.
The Party has given Kevin Rudd all the opportunities in the world and he wasted them with his dysfunctional decision making and his deeply demeaning attitude towards other people includingour caucus colleagues. He sought to tear down the 2010 campaign, deliberately risking an AbbottPrime Ministership, and now he undermines the Government at every turn.
He was the Party’s biggest beneficiary then its biggest critic; but never a loyal or selfless example of its values and objectives. For the interests of the labour movement and of working people, there is too much at stake in our economy and in the political debate for the interests of the labour movement and working people tobe damaged by somebody who does not hold any Labor values.
That last part is a little rich coming from Swan, an extremely mediocre Treasurer who rode Rudd’s coattails into power. It’s amazing that everyone seems to forget that Rudd defeated Howard and brought Labor into power in 2007 – and that was Rudd, not Labor. That election victory was almost entirely down to his personal popularity. Swan had nothing to do with it, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time – a skill that later won him accolades as Treasurer.
2. Rudd is doing the right thing
Could be that he saw the damage that all the leadership speculation was doing to the Labor party and he genuinely felt bad about the fact that his leadership status was distracting Australia from the important issues, so he decided to just end it all and disappear into obscurity for a while. This doesn’t seem like him, however – last time he did something like that he (allegedly) started leaking information to the press to damage Gillard’s campaign.
3. He’s giving Gillard one last “fuck you”
This seems like the more likely option to me. A lot of accusations are coming out that Gillard had grown sick of the leadership talk and was planning to fire Rudd next week anyway. It could be that Rudd knew this and decided to get in ahead and pre-emptively quit in a manner that would really stick it to Gillard, so he decided to:
- Call a press conference from Washington at 1:30am so that he would hit the peak social media time – just after work finishes – and be all over the evening news, without giving Gillard any time to respond before the newspapers go to print tonight.
- Dramatically hand his Foreign Minister duties at high-profile conferences over to some officials, making his resignation really look like an emergency.
- Give Gillard some time to sweat while he flies back to Australia without announcing what he intends to do.
All the while knowing that Labor can’t afford for him to resign from Parliament completely, as they would not only lose his seat but probably the current election in Queensland.